Sunday, July 04, 2010

WW2 Heroes of Arlecdon

Arlecdon War Memorial, St Michael's Churchyard
Arlecdon War Memorial in St Michael's Churchyard

Arlecdon parish in West Cumbria is mainly made up of three small villages: Arlecdon, Asby and Rowrah and a few scattered houses. Traditionally a relatively peaceful place where people earned a crust by farming or mining, it is about as far away from battlefields and war that one can imagine. Nevertheless, like almost every town and village in Western Europe there is a war memorial to commemorate the Fallen of the World Wars.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

(1) The War Memorial

The War Memorial in the grounds of Arlecdon Parish Church (Church of England) was initially dedicated in remembrance of the 23 young servicemen of the parish who lost their lives in the so-called 'Great War' of 1914 - 1918. After the Second World War a further 7 names of service personnel of the parish were added to the memorial. In addition two civilians - a father and daughter from the same family - and parishioners of St Michael's Church Arlecdon lost their lives as the result of German bombing. This family had connections in Cumberland, Devon and London. While in London the family home was bombed out.

Some years later, one further serviceman from the parish lost his life while serving with the British Army in Aden in 1967. However, the rest of this article concentrates on the 9 parishioners who lost their lives during WW2.

(2) Arlecdon's WW2 civilian casualties

1. Alwyn Haskell Holman
Age: 51
Died: 26 September 1940, at 7 Holland Villas Road, Kensington, London
Next of Kin: Son of Mr & Mrs John Holman of Holcombe Down, Dawlish, Devon;
Husband of Mrs Myfanwy Holman (née Dixon).
His daughter, Benita R.J. Holman was also a civilian casualty of WW2

2. Benita Rosemary Joyce Holman
Age: 17
Died: 26 September 1940, at St Mary Abbot's Hospital, London, after being injured at 7 Holland Villas Road, Kensington, London.
Next of Kin: Daughter of Mr Alwyn Haskell Holman and Mrs Myfanwy Holman (née Dixon).
Her father, Alwyn H. Holman was also a civilian casualty of WW2


(3) The sacrifice of Holman family

The Holman family were connected to Dawlish, Devon as well as London. Alwyn and Benita Holman were cremated and their ashes subsequently taken to Devon and scattered on the sea. The family also owned Rheda Mansion and grounds at Frizington (the neighbouring village of Arlecdon). While resident at Rheda Mansion the Holmans worshipped at St Michael's Church, Arlecdon.

September 1940 was the height of the London Blitz. By mid September it was not just the East End of London that was being hit. Buckingham Palace had been hit by the German Luftwaffe on the 9 and 13 September. On 17 September more tonnage of bombs was dropped on London (350) than during the whole of WW1. On 23 September King George VI announced two new awards for bravery: the George Cross (civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross) and the George Medal (mainly awarded for various non-military good conduct and valour).

In these early days of the Blitz it was something new. While it was new it was also terrible. Nevertheless many people - particularly those living in London - felt they should face up to. The attitude was they should carry on as close as possible with their usual lives. This is mentioned in "Their Finest Hour", Winston Churchill's personal account of this period of the war. Sir Winston states that when Londoners first experienced the Blitz most of them treated it with disdain. Londoners felt they should go about their business and pleasure, eat and sleep as usual. This was the era where it was felt "London can take it!"

I have heard the Holman family felt they should stay in London rather than move away to either Devon or West Cumberland where life would have been much calmer and safer. If your 'number was up' then so be it. Sadly, this was the case with the Holman family. Two of them would lose their lives in a direct hit on the house. These are the things that happen as the result of war. There is no happy ending in relating these kinds of events of the war years.

Mrs Holman spent much of the latter part war at Rheda Mansion. Some years after the war the Mansion and grounds were sold and developed for private housing.


Sunday, 04 July, 2010  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(4) Arlecdon's WW2 service casualties

1. Private William Briggs,
Service No: 3456306
Unit: 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment
Age: 29
Died: 14 June 1944
Buried: La Délivrande War Cemetery, Douvres - La Délivrande, Calvados, France. (Grave Ref: IV.G.11)
Next of Kin: Son of the late Mr William Briggs and Mrs Jane Ann Briggs (née Whitten), Arlecdon, Cumberland

2. Aircraftman 2nd Class Donald Robert Brown,
Service No: 1137186
Unit: RAF Volunteer Reserve
Age: 28
Died: 2 July 1942
Buried: Arlecdon (St Michael) Churchyard, Cumberland (Grave 105)

3. Private John Young Charlton,
Service No: 14652667
Unit: 2nd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment
Age: 19
Died: 2 December 1944
Buried: Swartbroek Churchyard, Netherlands (Grave Ref: Row 1, Grave 5A)
Next of Kin: Son of Mr John Young Charlton and Mrs Eleanor Charlton, Winder, Arlecdon, Cumberland

4. Gunner William Tyson Gill
Service No: 1118482
Unit: 241 Battery, 69 (The Denbighshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery
Age: 21
Died: 30 March 1943
Commemorated: Medjez-el-Bab Memorial, Tunisia (Face 8)
Next of Kin: Son of Mr Robert Gill and Mrs Mary P. Gill, Arlecdon, Frizington, Cumberland

5. Serjeant John Watson Leathes
Service No: 927407
Unit: 51 Battery, 69 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery
Age: 31
Died: 1 November 1944
Buried: Kirkee War Cemetery, India (Grave Ref: 3.K.12)
Next of Kin: Son of Mr Joseph Fox Leathes and Mrs Sarah Leathes, Carlisle, Cumberland

6. Sergeant Wilfred Ray
Service No: 1138809
Unit: 76 Squadron, RAF Volunteer Reserve
Age: 22
Died: 19 July 1944
Buried: Sailly-Flibeaucourt Churchyard, France (Collective Grave)
Next of Kin: Son of Mr James Ray and Mrs Florence Ray.

7. Flying Officer Robinson Stables
Service No: 126972
Unit: RAF Volunteer Reserve
Age: 21
Died: 22 December 1942
Buried: Arlecdon (St Michael) Churchyard, Arlecdon, Cumberland


(5) Some personal comments

The information in this article is mainly based on part of an exhibition and illustrated talk about WW2 that I was asked to do by Cumbria Library Service at Frizington Branch Library and Community Centre in May 2010. This was to coincide with the 'Local History Month' run by British libraries and to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of WW2 (in 1945) and the 70th anniversary of Dunkirk and the Blitz (in 1940).

People can see how families from their own locality were affected during the course of the war, and perhaps this makes it more relevant to those who lived through the war years as well as the 'post-war' generations. Arlecdon and district has its own local history group which holds regular meetings at Frizington Library. Its members have done their own research into the life and times of villagers during the First and Second World Wars. That research goes into greater depth than this article regarding the WW2 casualties from the Arlecdon area.

Sunday, 04 July, 2010  

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